Peter Blakey

42 years at Hollin Lane Allotments

I am very sorry to have to tell you that Peter Blakey died on Wednesday afternoon after a short bout of pneumonia.

Peter joined Hollin Lane Allotments in 1981 and became an important member or our community from early on. He served as Secretary and managed plot lettings for many years before passing that job on to Rosie. He finally retired from the Committee in 2014. Throughout this time, and until his death at 89 years old he quietly looked after cutting the grass on our footpaths, even when he was in considerable pain from his knees.

Peter was an excellent gardener. He won our Best Allotment competition many times, and was a formidable exhibitor of vegetables, often winning prizes at our little show, and at others around the city. I happened to raise the subject the other day and he told me that his exhibits had won 31 first prizes last year. He also contributed to the Leeds Allotments Federation’s winning exhibits at some of the Harrogate and Great Yorkshire shows. He was keen for us to improve our own exhibits and showmanship, and composed a handy guide to showing some of the main classes.

In recent weeks Peter did a huge amount of work turning over his whole plot and ridging it in readiness for the new planting season. His latest project was a massive hot bed – a pit filled with hot strawy manure with a cold frame over it to provide summery heat for growing in cold weather. Not being able to see the conclusion of this experiment will be just one of many reasons I mourn his passing.

Peter was always looking for new ways to improve things – not just his own gardening, but the state of Hollin Lane Allotments as a whole. He loved being here, and did much to make it the happy place it is. We will miss him hugely.

I am sure you will all join me in extending our sympathy to Peter’s wife Kathryn and their family.

Peter and Joe Maiden in 2014
Peter and Kathryn helped Leeds Allotments Federation win at the 2016 Great Yorkshire Show

Winter Pruning Apples and Pears

November – early March in UK.

Winter pruning of apples and pears is best done while the trees are dormant, usually between November and early March in the UK. Here are three useful articles from the RHS that explain what to do for different types of pruning:

Restricted forms like cordons and espaliers are managed by summer pruning.

Allium Leaf Miner

Many crops ruined by allium leaf miner.

There is a lot of damage to allium crops (leeks, onions, garlic, etc) this year from allium leaf miners. They have been active in Leeds since at least 2020, but this is the first time I have heard of so many growers pulling up their whole crops and disposing of them. More information here.

A New Weapon Against Slugs and Snails?

A safe and effective slug bait?

A researcher in America has found a highly effective, non-toxic and cheap slug bait. Is this what we have been looking for all these years? Why not try it and see? (But what is the best way of getting rid of the slugs once you catch them?)

Well, the first time I tried it the rats ate the bread dough before the slugs found it. I’ll try again with wire mesh to stop the rats.